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Monthly Inspiration: December 2016

Inner Body Bright

Lois Nesbitt

As we nose up to the Winter Solstice, the shortest day in the year, many of us crave the abundant sunlight of summer’s expansive days. Cultures all over the world have long combated the coming darkness with festivals of lights, from solstice celebrations to Hanukah menoras to Christmas trees.

Add to this the East End’s general muting of activity as the summer/weekend crowd thins out, and the outer darkness can make us feel less bright within.

Good news! Yoga has a special principle designed to lighten you up from the inside out. Coined “Inner Body Bright” by Anusara Yoga founder John Friend, this simple physical action creates a powerful energetic and emotional shift. More good news—you don’t have to be in class, on your mat, in your full yoga regalia, to pull it off. You can brighten your inner body sitting at your desk, standing on line, taking your morning shower (in which case, you may not need a high-octane dose of caffeine to get you up and running!).

We’ll be guiding through how to do this in our classes this month, but in the meantime, here’s the basics:

• Start by sitting or standing upright but without straining.
• Take a deep inhale and fill the full circumference of your ribcage with fresh air. Picture a balloon inflating: expand your front, side and back ribs.
• Notice how when you do this, several things happen:
• Your spine and side bodies (distance from your outer hips to your shoulders) lengthen
• Your shoulders rise—not by shrugging but as a natural result of your ribs lifting and widening
• Your collarbones lengthen out from your breastbone to your shoulders
• Your upper arms roll out, drawing your shoulders back (where they belong)
• Your head slides back to balance lightly at the top of your spine, taking the weight off your neck and shoulders.

Give it a try. Right now, wherever you are, while you are reading this. Then close your eyes and notice that when your posture improves, so does your mood! You may feel stronger, more courageous, lighter of heart, even happier!

When should you do this? Always. That is, whenever you are standing or sitting, as that is when gravity tends to pull our shoulders and head forward and down into “Inner Body Dull”—the classic slump that conveys fatigue, submission, resignation, shutting down. And of course, you want a bright inner body in all of the poses you do on the mat. This ensures that you will be breathing deeply and fully; that you will be relieving the compression of the disks between the vertebrae all along your spine; that your shoulders, neck, and head will be supported with minimal effort; that you will look tall and proud! Indeed, your head will be not only farther back but more upright, so you’ll find you have to look down the tip of your nose to see what’s straight in front of you.

The genius of yoga is that it works from the outside in. We rearrange the physical body and then experience shifts in the way we think and feel. Never underestimate the power of the smallest change in habit. As Einstein wrote, “If you want to have different thoughts, walk down the other side of the street.” I often wonder what he would have thought of yoga’s radical repatterning of the body. Who knows, after a few weeks on the mat, he might even have conceived of even more revolutionary theories!

So no excuses for us: we have the tools, right here in the studio. Think you can’t make a change in yourself and the world around you? With Inner Body Bright, you’re well on your way!

 

 

KamaDeva Yoga, 15 Lumber Lane, 2nd Fl, East Hampton, NY 11937 Tel: 917.301.6919 Monthly Inspiration Archives